While many of you have likely passed out after my first post, I want to thank the rest of you for bearing with me. I promise that I will provide a decent mix of casual topics along with more personal ones. Oh, and because your all so lucky, I'm doing a special double post for my first entry just because I care... Also, I guarantee that my blogs won't devolve into a list of what I simply ate and did during the day which I find so common on blogger...
Today, I received my grades in the mail for summer classes that I took at Joliet Junior College. One of them was a Music 101 class that I had taken as a gen ed for my liberal arts degree at Augustana. It then struck me that this was pretty much the first music, nay art class that I had taken in at least 6 years. Sure that may not seem like a lot to some but you have to remember that at 20 years old, that leaves me at the very tender age of 14 when I was last asked to appreciate art. Back then, art class was essentially a glorified recess which consisted of PlayDough fights and drawing. Over these last 6 years, I have been bombarded non-stop with math, science, and computer classes which have no doubt affected my majors in college. In all this time, I feel that I have gained considerable technical knowledge in these areas which I once felt as the only knowledge worth learning. Such 'soft' knowledge as the humanities was best left to the other half of the population that was content with just philosophizing but not really getting much done.
The seeds of doubt in my beliefs first sprang during my freshmen year in college where I took a science literature class that emphasized the debates between science and the humanities. There I learned the folly of truly focusing on technical skills: they are entirely useless in proving one's point to non-technical people. What good is a mathematical proof if you cannot explain it in layman's terms to the masses? 'Forget the masses' one very cynical person might say. However this is ignoring the noble pursuit that science has allowed itself over the years. Science is pursued to better understand the universe and hopefully in doing so, we can better mankind. Many might see this as injecting altruistic tendencies in something that is naturally devoid of them. That might be so but no man is an island capable of unlimited budgets. If no practical worth is seen in research, much of the time it is scrapped. Just ask NASA about its budget reductions in recent years about what useful applications they have planned for Mars visits. I'm sure that it will come up lacking. It takes a very enterprising individual indeed to give compelling reasons to both scientists and investors alike to pursue research.
For my music class, we were required to write a critique on a book concerning music. Always looking to indulge in some history, I found a book, Stradivari's Genius, that gave a historical account of the life and influence of Antonio Stradivari, famed violin luthier. In it, I learned much of the great virtuoso violin players of the last 2 centuries. However, it is with great bewilderment that I actually found myself appreciating classical music as a result of this book. This was not possible, I told myself. A mere book of artistic origin couldn't possibly be of such merit. I had 'learned' little in the realm of facts or figures following the book but still felt entirely satisfied with it. Never had I considered pleasure as an intended objective of a book. For quite some time have I maintained disdain for fiction 'trashy' novels whose only aim is to entertain. If I don't come away from a book 'smarter,' why not just watch a movie as it'll take less time anyway? I am still working out the answer to that question but it's become clear that intelligence is not limited to that which can be expressed in figures or data. Rather than gaining knowledge from the book, I developed a broader perspective on the humanities. So much, in fact, that I am contemplating a joint JD-MBA degree now which is both a business and law one. Maybe there can I strike a balance between my love of numbers and life itself.